Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
PORTLAND, Ore. – A strong showing at the free throw line ultimately pushed the Pacific Lutheran University men's basketball team into the win column on Wednesday night, downing host Multnomah University 93-91 in overtime in a back and forth season opener featuring 14 lead changes and nine ties.
The Lutes (1-0) hit 13 of their 14 free throws (92.9 percent), including a pair from Brandon Lester with 22 seconds to go in overtime to preserve the victory. Lester led the team with a 30-point performance, sinking all six of his free throw attempts while shooting 10-for-21 from the floor and hitting four of his nine attempts from distance. The senior additionally dished out three assists to go with his scoring outburst.
"We were moving the ball well as a team in the first half," Lester said "We were focused on getting the ball to the hole. That opened up a lot of shots for us and we knocked them down."
Kyle Sawtell, Jared Christy and Tyson Birrer were in the starting lineup for the Lutes. Sawtell poured in 19 points, going eight-for-15 from the field. Birrer contributed a career high 15 points while Christy had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. The trio combined to go seven-for-eight from the free throw line.
Erik Swartout came off the bench, dishing out five assists, along with scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds. Sean McLaughlin scored six points and grabbed two boards. Markus Glenn and Andrew Ardissone each scored two points.
The Lutes gained their advantage at the free throw line and from beyond the arc. The Lutes shot 92.9 percent from the charity stripe. PLU knocked down 34.8 percent of their three-point attempts (eight-for-23). The Lutes outrebounded the Lions (2-6) 49-40 and also took advantage of Multnomah turnovers, scoring 14 points off of turnovers.
Neither team owned a lead greater than seven points in the contest. Multnomah owned a 50-46 edge at the halftime break and the game went into overtime after the Lions' Darius Redrick hit a layup with four seconds left, tying the score at 82.
The Lutes continue their season with the Doug McAurther Classic on Friday at the University of Puget Sound, facing University of Saint Thomas at 4 p.m.